85-year-old's masters world record, when age-graded, would have placed him 2nd
Runner Ed Whitlock, 85, participates in a half-marathon in Waterloo, Ont. on Sunday, April 24, 2016.
Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, October 20, 2016 9:23AM EDT
TORONTO -- Imagine a 27-year-old Ed Whitlock sprinting to a second-place finish at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
Whitlock, who is actually 85, raced to a world age group record last weekend in Toronto, which was impressive enough. But his age-graded time, according to American stats guru Alan Jones, would have been good enough for a silver medal.
Jones has compiled tables that adjust times for age, and punched Whitlock's time into his formula.
"Ed's age-graded performance is 2:08:57 which is, theoretically, what he should have been able to run at around age 27," Jones said. "The world record is 2:02:57."
Whitlock crossed in three hours 56 minutes and 33 seconds, painting a striking picture with his shock of white hair, faded teal singlet and scuffed running shoes that were so old, he joked that he couldn't remember when he purchased them.
The Milton, Ont., native, who holds 36 world age class records on the road and track, earned one more that day, obliterating the previous world mark in the 85-90 age class of 4:34.55.
Jones, who knows Whitlock by reputation, said he became interested in age-graded performances about 15 years ago when a 12-year-old boy ran a fast time at a 20-kilometre road race he helps run in New York state. The performance tables, he said, are recalculated about every five years as times continue to improve.
An engineer, he also invented the Jones Counter in 1971, which measures the length of road races and is used at events around the world, plus wrote the road race management software called RunScore.
He was inducted into Run USA Hall of Champions in 2007.
One of Whitlock's most notable performances was the marathon time of 3:15:54 he ran in Toronto at age 80. When age-graded, that time is converted to 2:02:58, just one hundredth slower than the world record set by Dennis Kimetto of Kenya in 2014.
Kenya's Philemon Rono won Sunday's race in 2:08:27.